Homeland Security halts UIC student's deportation

December 11, 2009 4:47:12 AM PST
An honor student at the University of Illinois Chicago who is facing deportation will be allowed to stay in the U.S. for another year.Many of people, including elected officials, have rallied on behalf of Rigo Padilla, 21, an undocumented college student. After a minor traffic violation, he was ordered to leave the U.S. by December 16 and return to his native Mexico, a country he hasn't seen since he was 6 years old.

On Thursday, his fight to stay in this country was delayed. U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement has agreed to allow Padilla to stay in this country for another year

"I'm still at a loss of words-- but it feels good that I will be allowed to stay," said Padilla.

Padilla learned he received a stay of deportation until December 10, 2010 during a meeting with his attorney and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Padilla, an honor student and junior at the University of Illinois in Chicago, has been fighting to stay in the U.S. since he was placed in deportation proceeding last January, due to a misdemeanor driving violation.

"I just want to say that I'm thankful for the support and opportunity that I'm being given to continue my college education," said Padilla.

There have been youth marches, protests and rallies on behalf of Padilla. Thousands have signed petitions and sent letters and e-mails to Washington D.C. in support of the college student.

"My friends and the community and all the faculty at UIC and Harold Washington gathered around me and the coalition- ICRR- picked up my campaign," said Padilla.

"This is great. It makes me feel like community works and doing all of this grassroots and advocating and protesting has worked," said Tania Undueta, Padilla supporter.

"We are hoping that this means the administration will be moving into more enhanced immigration reform," said Prof. Nilda Flores Gonzalez

U.S. Representative Jan Schakowsky introduced a private bill asking Padilla be eligible for issuance of an immigrant visa. Many believe this brought a great deal of national attention to his case.

"I'm very thankful for her efforts," said Padilla. "This is a victory but it also shows why we have to get immigration reform. We can't do this case by case," said Joshua Hoyt, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant & Refugee Rights.

"It is the biggest Christmas gift I've gotten in all of my life," said Padilla.

Padilla and his supporters feel victorious today. His attorney says that the stay of deportation is renewable at the end of the year. Everyone, including Padilla says they will continue to fight for immigration reform.

Padilla , who works full time and is carrying a full load at UIC, wants to be an attorney.

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